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Edited by Victor Suthren

Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1989. 208pp, cloth, $24.95
ISBN 0-19-540711-3. CIP

Grades 9 and up/Ages 14 and up
Reviewed by Iyvan Michalchyshyn.

Volume 18 Number 1
1990 January

This book is the work of the present director of the Canadian War Museum. He clearly demonstrates a solid effort at editing a wide variety of material in order to come up with this excellent piece.

The main theme is military but the anecdotes shed new light on a human activity many now prefer not to discuss or teach. It is unfortunate that so many feel peace can somehow be gained by pretending wars and soldiers never existed. This book by Suthren is a good response to this kind of thinking. He has selected from a variety of Canadian military writing and gives the reader a front-seat experience. Canadians have been involved in matters military from the time of New France to peace-keeping in the Middle East. These selections give vivid accounts of the realities of war as experienced by ordinary Canadians during these times.

The editor has taken a very large theme and has managed to crystalize the personal experience from each. All the services are given treatment throughout the book and we experience everything from trench warfare to ramming submarines. The writing of Canadians such as Hal Lawrence, John Melady, and Farley Mowat appears in this book.

The author remains consistent with his approach to this theme throughout the book. In his introduction he states that his goal "has been to provide glimpses of experience, a feeling for what the realities of war were for Canadians caught up in it." These feelings and glimpses are in evidence in most selections.

The book is easy to read and the nine chapters allow reasonable access to information. A small index is also included. Suthren does not give a complete bibliography; this is a bit unfortunate as many readers will want to read the complete works.

I was surprised that books such as Generals Die in Bed (Potlatch, 1975,1930) or Six War Years (Paperjacks, 1982) were not used but these personal choices aside I feel the choice of material is satisfactory.

Iyvan Michalchyshyn, Winnipeg, Man.
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